The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me, because He has anointed Me to announce release to the captives...to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed... ~ Luke 4:18
Monday, June 4, 2012
Breaking the Chains
Oppressed. That was me. For nearly 47 years. I lived my life always trying to please others. Always seeking the approval of others. And always falling short. I was always weighed, measured, and found wanting by the very people who should have loved me unconditionally. Oh they loved me. But if I messed up, if I did something they didn't like, I heard about it continually.
I would say I was sorry, always wondering what I did to make them mad. They would "forgive" me, yet come back with a barrage of faults of mine, beginning with "But you...." When I would begin to cry, I would hear, "Dry it up! You brought this on yourself!" I'm still trying to figure out what I did. But you know what? It does not matter now.
When I accepted Jesus into my life, I had no earthly idea that I didn't have to perform for Him to get Him to love me. I had no idea that He would never bring up my past mistakes (and let me tell you, I have made many). I had no idea that He loved me unconditionally. All I had to do was trust Him. But I didn't know how. For the last 29 years, I have run around trying to figure out this God, this Jesus, whom everyone around me seems to know in an intimately spiritual way. What was I missing? Did I even have Him in my heart at all? I did have Him in my heart, but I'd never really got to know Him intimately; never really given Him total control of my life. I mean, everyone else had control of it, wouldn't God just do me the same way? Absolutely not!
You see, I have been oppressed for most of my life. I have been beat down by women in my life. Many of them family members. Many of them other people. People who think they "know" what I should be doing. People who think they know me. Many people would love to tell you "what she's REALLY like." Let me tell you...they don't know. They never have. No one has ever seen the real Shelley. Not my parents, not my siblings, not my kids, not my extended family, no one. Not until now. And it's going to take a while for all of her to surface even now...but I'm working on it.
I'm not laying blame on anyone, I'm not accusing anyone. I'm just stating facts. What I am saying is that being a "people pleaser" has not got me anywhere in life. In doing so, I have let people walk all over me, dictating which direction I go and what I do. If someone didn't like what I was doing, I quit it. It didn't matter what it was, I quit. When I would hear things like, "What do you want to do THAT for?" I would literally feel the weight crushing my chest, pressing in, almost suffocating me. When I would stop doing anything for myself, those accusations would stop. It never occurred to me that I was being oppressed and controlled.
Let me tell you what the devil did to me....he used my family members, my friends, people I went to church with, and many others to control me and to keep me from a ministry that the Lord was calling me into. And I let them! But, when the Spirit of the Lord came upon me that Wednesday evening, May 30th, 2012 in church, I had no idea that that's what if felt like! That's what HE felt like! It was like breaking the chains of bondage that had held me captive for almost 47 years of my life (and I'll be 47 on my birthday in August). The crushing weight was lifted. I could breathe. No more panic. No more anxiety. Just peace, happiness, laughter, song, and a whole barrage of other things I can't explain other than to say, THAT WAS GOD! I literally felt as if the Lord was saying to me, "You've done this long enough. I need you for a ministry, and you need to follow Me."
I have been writing notes for a book about forgiveness in a journal for nearly 4 months. I knew I was going to go on a journey to find forgiveness in my heart for those who have oppressed me throughout the years. But I didn't know how I was going to get there. I love them. I wanted to forgive them. When the Holy Spirit washed over me Wednesday night and put me in the floor, I found that forgiveness. I also found my ministry and the rest of the notes for the book. I went down an oppressed, unhappy woman. I got up a liberated, free, changed one. My story isn't finished...yet...it's only beginning. There are going to be trials. There are going to be confrontations. Many of those who have oppressed me for years are going to continue to try to keep me down. But one thing they don't realize is that they can't do it to me again.
If what you have just read sounds like you, I want you to know something. You don't have to live like I did. You don't! No matter what anyone else tells you. There IS a God who loves you for YOU. He adores you! Come to Him and let Him break the chains of your bondage, too!
Come back again for the next installment on what happens after the chains have been broken. On my Journey to Forgiveness.